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" The purpose of the GBHS is to preserve the BME Church on Essex St which was built by former slaves who arrived in the area via Underground Railroad. "

Guelph Black Heritage Society
83 Essex St, Guelph, ON, N1H 3K9
Tel: (519) 837-2519

987 - 1/27/2021 1:32:32 PM  


In 2021, the Guelph Black Heritage Society and its partners have decided to do things a little differently

The Guelph Black Heritage Society (GBHS), in collaboration with the University of Guelph’s Cultural Diversity Office and the Guelph Black Student’s Association, has announced it will recognize February 2021 as Black “Heritage” Month

For over 25 years, February has been referred to as Black History Month in Canada, following a motion introduced by the Honourable Jean Augustine – the first Black Canadian woman elected to Parliament. It is the month in which we celebrate the contributions that Black historical figures have made to our society. Names like Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and Martin Luther King Jr. – and more recently, Viola Desmond – are well engrained in our minds. Celebrating the past has always been the focal point of Black History Month. In 2021, the Guelph Black Heritage Society and its partners have decided to do things a little differently. 
GBHS president Denise Francis proposed the change to Black “Heritage” Month, and the Board of Directors, collaborators and partners enthusiastically supported this initiative.  This month will commemorate past and present accomplishments within the Black community and set sights on our bright future ahead.  While we will continue to acknowledge the resilience and bravery of those who came before us, we must recognize that Black history and experiences are much more than the narrative of slavery.
During Black “Heritage” Month 2021, the GBHS will feature its #ChangeStartsNow initiative, providing virtual educational programming on Black heritage and culture as well as relevant resources on diversity, discrimination and anti-racism. The GBHS calls on the community to honour our past, celebrate today, and look toward the future. 

The following FREE online events will be presented in during Black Heritage Month:

AFTERSHOCK Art Show – Monday February 1, 2021 @ 6pm
Aftershock is a mixed media art installation showcasing the creations of aspiring young artists in Guelph and the surrounding area.  The Aftershock opening ceremony will feature a panel/Q&A discussion with the featured artists. The art show will be displayed throughout the month via the online. 

Black Leadership in Anti-Black Spaces with Laura Mae Lindo, MPP Kitchener Centre – Thurs. February 4, 2021 @ 6pm
Join Dr. Laura Mae Lindo in a conversation about what it means to Lead While Black in an Anti-Black World. 
The Anti-Black Racism Workshop with Selam Debs – Wednesday February 10, 2021 @ 6pm
Through the Antiracism Workshop with Selam Debs, she will speak from her lived experience as a Black Ethiopian Woman and her study in Antiracism, Anti-Oppression, Black Sovereignty and Critical Race Theory.

Black Core Improv Workshop with Velvet Duke – Saturday February 13, 2021 @ 12pm
Improvisation is a playful way for strangers to get to know each other, to share laughs and perspectives, or to have a break away from your day-to-day. In this two hour workshop, we will play games and exercises to introduce you to the core skills of improvised comedy. No prior experience is required.  Ages 18+. To register for this event:

Rogers TV: Black Heritage Month – airing throughout the month beginning February 15, 2021
As we start to adjust to a new normal, there is much work to be done ahead in relation to race and racism, and discrimination, especially in Canada. While this work might be uncomfortable, this discomfort will actually help us to learn and grow. What we really want to do is continue the conversation because it is vital. The goal of this discussion is to provide some tools to help you affect positive change within the community and yourself.
This month join Kween and Aleia to honour Black Heritage Month with Black artists in the region who are working their passion, being advocates and sharing their experiences and stories. 

Black + Mental Health + Matters Workshop – Wednesday February 17, 2021 @ 6pm
Black + Mental Health + Matters workshop is designed to be a place of refuge for Black people. Knowing that Black humans in North America face unique and specific barriers to mental wellness, this workshop provides a place for them to be seen and heard, both collectively and individually. Equipping participants with tools to help them heal and thrive, Black + Mental Health + Matters uses creative practices to center and uplift.

Caribbean Dance Class with Kween – Saturday February 20, 2021 @ 10am
The Guelph Black Students’ Association will be offering a free dance class featuring a creative blend of Caribbean and African movements set to dancehall, afro, and soca music. Join artist and community leader Kween for this exhilarating dance fitness workout! To register for this this event:

Fourth Friday at the Guelph Civic Museum – Friday February 26, 2021 @ 7pm
Featuring a musical performance by Aisha Barrow. Lifeandthetribe is the new R&B and Pop project from singer/songwriter Aisha Barrow. Drawing from diverse influences Lifeandthetribe has a bold, fresh, and new sound that that can be best described as an amalgamation of Jazz, R&B, and Pop. After the successful release of their debut EP, Eye-sha: Extended, Lifeandthetribe is currently in process of recording their first full length album, slated for release in 2021. 

For details on additional events, please visit

Proceeds from Black Heritage Month events will support the #ChangeStartsNow education initiative.  The Guelph Black Heritage Society (GBHS) is a registered charity. Registration # 80158 3907 RR0001. Tax receipts will be issued for donations $25 or greater.


The Guelph BME (British Methodist Episcopal) Church has stood at 83 Essex Street since 1880. The Guelph BME was built by former fugitive slaves who arrived in the area via the Underground Railroad.

The Guelph Black Heritage Society (GBHS) was formed after the BME Church was listed for sale in November 2011. The purpose of the GBHS is to preserve the historical significance of the BME Church by creating a cultural, historical and social centre within Guelph and Wellington County. The GBHS’s offer to purchase the BME Church was accepted and the sale was finalized in December 2012.
The Guelph BME Church building has been renamed Heritage Hall.


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